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Burnet adding police officer, refinancing debt, repairing amphitheater roof

Haley-Nelson amphitheater

The Burnet City Council authorized budgeting up to $30,000 to replace the roof of the Haley-Nelson Park’s amphitheater, which is 10 to 11 years old and in need of repair. The facility is used for concerts and events. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

The city of Burnet added an additional police officer and another staff position in development services during its regular meeting March 23, all to help keep up with growth, said City Manager David Vaughn. Council members also authorized budgeting up to $30,000 to replace the roof of the Haley-Nelson Park amphitheater.

The amphitheater is a popular location for events at the park, including the summer concert series. Vaughn said the current roof has been on for at least a decade and has begun to wear out. The plan is to have a new one in place in time for the Bark In The Park concert May 22.

The Burnet Police Department plans to add a total of four patrol officers and one sergeant over the next few years as part of the city’s five-year plan. The patrol officer position approved March 23 is one of those five positions.

Under the current staffing levels, the police department has eight patrol officers and four sergeants in order to provide two officers on patrol 24 hours, seven days a week. In his presentation packet, Interim Police Chief Sid Fuller pointed out at that, with those staffing numbers, it is a challenge to maintain two officers on patrol around the clock due to long-term illnesses, officer turnover, and the often long process of hiring and training an officer.

Fuller pointed out that from 2018 to 2020, the Burnet Police Department reported a 36 percent increase in calls for service. With more housing developments in the works within the city of Burnet, the call volume will likely increase.

The city’s development services department, which handles the work associated with new construction, is also under pressure with new homes and construction already underway and planned for the near future. Currently, the city has about 133 residential lots under development and a 70-site RV park planned for the west side of town.

One of the struggles with development services is finding qualified people for the work, the city manager added.

“There are so few people who are in that field, so it’s hard to fill positions,” Vaughn said. “But it’s so important with all the growth we have.”

In other business, councilors approved refinancing about $2.5 million of debt.

“We are taking advantage of the lower interest rates, which will save the city and taxpayers some money,” Vaughn said regarding the debt financing.